TRIP REPORT: Lady Northcotes Canyon, Kosciuszko NP
Summary: Lots of scrub, lots of rock scrambling – a classic route!
This was a tough trip. It was a solo trip, visiting a classic part of the western edge of the Main Range. The route was basically Charlotte Pass to Mt Townsend via Seamans Hut, then across the Townsend Plateau, climbing Mt Alice Rawson and the other unnamed peaks, then following the Abbot Ridge north to a saddle at 1480m, droppping down into Lady Northcotes Canyon, and then ascending the creek to Lake Albina before returning to Charlotte Pass. The whole walk is covered on the 1:25,000 Perisher Valley topo if you want to look over it.
Walking along the Townsend plateau is quite pleasant until the knoll at 1920m, because from this point it is rock scrambling and scrub bashing all the way out to the 1838m trig station and a steep descent to the saddle at 1480m. From here it is a very steep descent down a scrubby scree slope, choked with thorns, vines and other hindering scrub, to a point on Lady Northcotes Creek just below the aqueduct intake station.
From here you pick up the Geehi River Aqueduct Trail (see photos for a view of this area) which is overgrown with weeds and burrs. It soon reaches the burnt out ruins of an old Snowy Mountains Authority hut known as the Opera House. The name derives from the fact that this picturesque little hut cost more to build, per square metre, than that other well known opera house! The aqeduct trail then swings uphill to cross Strzelecki Creek and Crags Creek at their junction. These creeks are dry at this point as the SMA built aqueduct intake stations up higher on the creeks. Following the trail steeply up along Crags Creek leads to the southern portal of the Siren Song Creek to Crags Creek Tunnel. The northern portal connects with a 4WD trail used by the Snowy Hydro people for maintenance. It is big enough to drive a vehicle through, and the water level at the southern portal, receiving flow from intakes on Lady Northcotes Creek, Strzelecki Creek and Crags Creek, was only mid-calf deep.
I spent rather a fair bit of time searching for the “Goat Track”. This fabled track was constructed by the Australian Army in 1995, as a walking route sidling around Watsons Crags at about the 1200m contour level, to connect the northen and southern portals of the tunnel. The scrub at the Crags Creek end is practically impenetrable, choked with weeds and thorns and vines. I found no clues as to the southern head of this old trail.
I was therefore forced to return via the upper section of Lady Northcotes Canyon. Returning to the intake station, I scambled up the small waterfall and continued for about 300m to the 30m high upper falls, (the lower falls are named “Canyon Falls” and are 80m high). There is a tough scramble and scrub bash up the true right (eastern) side of the upper falls, at the junction with Sentinel Creek. Once atop these falls, there are numerous cascades to negotiate and about 3km of rock hopping/scrambling to do until Lake Albina is reached. In some places the scrambling is a bit challenging and a small handline is useful for pulling your pack up after you.
Lake Albina was spectacular as always, though it was now time to ascend to the tourist trail and make my way back to Charlotte Pass and civilisation. Passing the myriad of tourists out for their daywalks on the Main Range left me with an increased intolerance for their kind, as they trampled fragile plant communities for the sake of that great Kodak moment. I was happy to think though that there are special places like Lady Northcotes Canyon where these tourists will never go.